Start location: Spittal of Glenmuick (NO 308 850)
End location: Glen Clova (NO 285 760)
Geographical area: Cairngorms National Park
Path Type: Medieval Road
Path distance: 9km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes
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Starting from the Spittal of Glenmuick, go SW along the track for 400 metres and take the left-hand track diagonally uphill across the west side of Black Hill and continue SSW over undulating moorland west of Watery Hill to Gallow Hillock. From there the path climbs slightly over the shoulder of Capel Mounth and then descends steeply in zigzags down the ridge between Moulzie Burn and Capel Burn and through a plantation to reach Glen Clova. The carpark at the end of the public road is 1km down the glen, and from there the Glen Clova Hotel is 5km further down the glen.
For those thinking of cycling the Capel Mounth, check out Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland's e-guide to the Highlands which also describes a circular route.
OS Landranger 44 (Ballater & Glen Clova)
This old route is marked as ‘Mounth Capell’ on the Gough Map, which has been dated to between 1355 and 1366.
This would have been a very convenient pass between Glen Muick and the Braes of Angus and may have been a good deal used in the days when the district was more populated.
The Spittal of Glenmuick is the site of an old hospice or hospital established by the Bishop of Aberdeen for travellers. This would have had a chapel (cappella) - hence probably the name of the Capel Mounth and of the Capel Burn, Glen Clova, at the southern end if the pass.
The Capel Mounth road lies above 2000 feet high for much of its way. In winter, like a lot of other Mounth passes, it was extremely dangerous; the OS 6" map (second edition) shows frequent snow posts and cairns marking the route. Many of the cairns are thought to have been erected as memorials to persons who lost their lives in the pass.
The recreational use of the route can be stretched back over 120 years. The Mountaineering Club Journal reports that "On 1st May 1892 a party of sixteen cyclists crossed by the Capel Mounth from Glen Muick to Glen Clova. They pushed their bicycles all the way over the mountain path, and finished the day at Forfar. They were the first cyclists to cross the Capel Mounth".
The Heritage Paths project is pleased to announce that Neil Ramsay (our former Project Officer) and Nate Pedersen (one of our earliest volunteers) have teamed up to write an ebook - The Mounth Passes - with photography by long-standing ScotWays member Graham Marr. If you too are interested in the heritage of these old ways through the Grampian Mountains, we highly recommend it.